Google cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation until it resolves concerns raised by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Competition and Markets Authority says Google must act to address concerns around market dominance
The news underscores the complex interplay between privacy advocacy, market competition,and technological evolution in the digital landscape.
The Privacy Sandbox Program
The Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to create technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers tools to build thriving digital businesses.
The Privacy Sandbox has two core aims:
- Phase out support for third-party cookies when new solutions are in place.
- Reduce cross-site and cross-app tracking while helping to keep online content and services free for all.
The CMA published a report detailing its ongoing competition concerns regarding Google’s Privacy Sandbox, including:
- Google may continue to benefit from user activity data while limiting competitors’ access to the same data.
- Google’s ability to control the inclusion of ad tech rivals on this list could advantage its ad tech services.
- Publishers and advertisers may be less able to effectively identify fraudulent activity.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox program is being introduced as an alternative to third-party cookies. However, the CMA has warned that issues surrounding this must be addressed or Google will risk not being able to deprecate third-party cookies from Chrome. This is currently planned for H2 of 2024.
What Happens Now?
The CMA will continue to work with Google to resolve the issues that have been identified. An update will be included in the CMA’s quarterly update which is due to be released at the end of April.
An extract taken from the CMA Q4 report, states: “Google cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation until our concerns are resolved. Once a resolution is achieved, Google will be able to remove third-party cookies without delay. Subject to our concerns being resolved, Google intends to deprecate third-party cookies in the second half of 2024.”
The CMA’s Q4 report confirmed that in the last quarter of 2023, the search engine fulfilled its commitments to making competition fairer. This information is taken from the report summary: “Based on the available evidence, we consider that from 1 October 2023 to 31 December 2023 (the relevant reporting period), Google has complied with the Commitments. This means that in our view Google has followed the required process set out in the Commitments and is engaging with us to resolve our remaining concerns ahead of third-party cookie deprecation. However, further progress is needed by Google to resolve our competition concerns ahead of deprecation. Any developments in January 2024 will be covered in our next update report.”
Read the CMA Report in full here